University of Hertfordshire

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De-identification for privacy protection in multimedia content: A survey

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-151
Number of pages21
JournalSignal Processing: Image Communication
Early online date1 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2016


Privacy is one of the most important social and political issues in our information society, characterized by a growing range of enabling and supporting technologies and services. Amongst these are communications, multimedia, biometrics, big data, cloud computing, data mining, internet, social networks, and audio-video surveillance. Each of these can potentially provide the means for privacy intrusion. De-identification is one of the main approaches to privacy protection in multimedia contents (text, still images, audio and video sequences and their combinations). It is a process for concealing or removing personal identifiers, or replacing them by surrogate personal identifiers in personal information in order to prevent the disclosure and use of data for purposes unrelated to the purpose for which the information was originally obtained. Based on the proposed taxonomy inspired by the Safe Harbour approach, the personal identifiers, i.e., the personal identifiable information, are classified as non-biometric, physiological and behavioural biometric, and soft biometric identifiers. In order to protect the privacy of an individual, all of the above identifiers will have to be de-identified in multimedia content. This paper presents a review of the concepts of privacy and the linkage among privacy, privacy protection, and the methods and technologies designed specifically for privacy protection in multimedia contents. The study provides an overview of de-identification approaches for non-biometric identifiers (text, hairstyle, dressing style, license plates), as well as for the physiological (face, fingerprint, iris, ear), behavioural (voice, gait, gesture) and soft-biometric (body silhouette, gender, age, race, tattoo) identifiers in multimedia documents.


This document is the Accepted Manuscript version of the following article: Slobodan Ribaric, Aladdin Ariyaeeinia, and Nikola Pavesic, ‘De-identification for privacy protection in multimedia content: A survey’, Signal Processing: Image Communication, Vol. 47, pp. 131-151, September 2016, doi: This manuscript version is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License CC BY NC-ND 4.0 (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.

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